Kary Coleman, director of development and alumni relations at Penn State University’s New Kensington campus, was honored as one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest in 2016 by WHIRL Magazine and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) of Western Pennsylvania for raising more than $6,000 in six months — 153 percent of the total requested — to benefit CFF and its work.
“I am honored to be named one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest for 2016,” Coleman said in a press release. “In all aspects of my life, I have simply embraced the Rotary International credo, ‘Service Above Self.’ To be recognized for this attitude and this lifestyle is humbling.”
The title was bestowed at the annual CFF gala in Pittsburgh on Aug 25, where 50 of the region’s “most accomplished men and women for career success and community involvement” were recognized by CFF, as they have been for 21 years, said Lauren Pesce, the foundation’s development director.
Honorees committed to raise funds and awareness for CFF for in the months prior to the gala, from March to August. Coleman was tasked with $4,000, but she surpassed her goal in July, ending the period with $6,107.
“Kary Coleman is a model honoree for Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest,” Pesce said. “Her drive and passion to help others is truly remarkable, and it has shown in her fundraising and awareness efforts throughout the summer.”
The Greensburg resident earned her B.A. degree in communication and information arts from Seton Hill University, where she graduated magna cum laude (with high academic distinction).
Coleman was president of her local Rotary Club, a service organization — the youngest in 100 years — and is now an active citizen in several charity groups. Besides CFF, she is a member of the United Way’s Women Leadership Council, a past member of its Executive Cabinet for Campaign and a supporter of the Westmoreland Cultural Trust. She also volunteers at the Westmoreland County Food Bank’s Our Lady of Grace pantry.
“One of the things that attracted us to Kary was her community involvement,” Kevin Snider, chancellor of the New Kensington campus, said. “I’m absolutely delighted that she is being recognized for that work by two prestigious organizations. It is a tremendous honor for her.”
Coleman’s efforts received instrumental help from two events, a Paint ‘n Sip in May, and an 80s themed pub crawl in July. Westmoreland Cultural Trust, a local business, and other donations also supported Coleman in reaching her goal. All honorees went “back to school” to Cystic Fibrosis University, to help them with their commitment and to learn more about cystic fibrosis (CF).
“We learned about the disease, research, advancements in the treatment of CF, and how critical the venture philanthropy model is to CF research for a cure. We also received a ‘crash course’ in fundraising,” Coleman said. “Over the course of the last six months, I have worked to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis and help the many children, who, in my opinion, are the true elite group and role models. Imagine trying to breathe through a straw; that is what breathing can feel like for people with cystic fibrosis. Imagine how you feel when you have bronchitis; that is how people with cystic fibrosis feel 24/7/365.”
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